Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WANDERLUST: Fresh from the farm at the Spokane Farmers Market

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2011 at 10:01 AM

Every year, I have the best intentions of getting a garden started. Visions of fresh produce dance through my head. I dream of sunny days, a basket full of herbs, sweat on my brow and dirt under my nails. I start seeds inside and wait for spring. I get giddy when they start to sprout.  

But something happens to the seedlings between my kitchen sill and the world outside. They rarely make the transition. Each May, I'm painfully reminded that my thumbs are as green as mud.

If you're like me, you might want to consider handing the task to local experts. 

This weekend marked the 13th seasonal opening of the Spokane Farmers Market. Located downtown on Fifth Avenue between Division and Browne, the market is a veritable haven for urban foodies and farm-fresh food fans. It boasts hand-crafted breads, organic fruits, free-range eggs, vegetables and grass-fed meats. Add live music, hot coffee and artisan pastries on a Saturday morning, and the experience becomes heavenly. 

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Darla Eaton has maintained a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) share with Tolstoy Farms for nearly 12 years. To pick up her weekly delivery of produce, she opts for a ride on her bike. "Not only is it a green way to get around," she says, it's also good exercise and "brings me joy."  

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Sarah Mann recently moved to Spokane from Coeur d'Alene and anxiously awaited the opening of the farmers market this weekend.  She's no stranger to buying local. "I like giving my money directly to farmers. Markets are a fun atmosphere. Everyone's so nice, and they love to tell you about their products. It feels like community." 

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The farmers market offers more than fruits and vegetables. Summer Harvest is a small, family-owned company that mills two varieties of wheat  from Esvelt Farms in Rice, Wash., for sale as flour or blended into baking mixes.

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Circle B Farms offers free-range goose, turkey, duck and chicken eggs that are hand-gathered for the market each week. Larger varieties of eggs (like the goose egg  above) are used primarily for baking. They become rich and chewy when fried. Fifty to 60 dozen chicken eggs are sold by Circle B each week. Generally, well before noon.

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Tolstoy Farms is in its 15th season of offering CSA shares to residents of Spokane. Joe Piver is a member of the intentional living community that resides on the farm. He's also one of many farmers who work to keep nearly four acres of land in cultivation each year.

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Antonio Macías sells bundles of fresh asparagus from Pacific Produce in Wapato, Wash.

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Wild morel mushrooms are harvested and brought to market, then sold at competitive prices. 

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Olsen Farms, one of the market's first and oldest vendors, is situated just 20 miles northeast of Colville, Wash. They offer marketgoers pesticide-free, barley-fed pork, and grass-fed, grass-finished beef. 

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Colorful hand-cut bunches of chives are sold straight from the farm.  

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Barry Graning (left) and Kevin Tunison (right) met when they worked together as roofers over 25 years ago. Today, Tunison owns Many Rock Farm — "Home of the Happy Pig" — and sells pork at the market each week. Graning isn't a market vendor but also raises rabbits and chickens, then sells them to private customers from his farm on the outskirts of town.  

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ABOUT WANDERLUST: The photo series is a 60-day visual story-telling project that explores the seemingly ordinary places, people and things we experience everyday. It's about being curious and asking questions. It's about wanting to know more about the world around you and seeing it from fresh perspectives. If you have ideas on where I should wander, drop me a line: amyh@inlander.com.

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